Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/403

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CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

So within a community, acts of relatively stringent control coming from ruling agencies, civil and religious, begin with and are qualified by this ceremonial control, which not only initiates but in a sense envelops all other. Functionaries, ecclesiastical and political, coercive as their proceedings may be, conform them in large measure to the requirements of courtesy. The priest, however arrogant, fulfills the usages of civility; and the officer of the law performs his duty subject to certain propitiatory words and movements.

Yet another indication of primordialism may be named. This species of control establishes itself anew with every fresh relation among individuals. Even between intimates those greetings which are requisite to signify continuance of respect, precede each renewal of intercourse. Though their particular form may be settled by custom, such greetings are in substance direct results of the desire not to offend. And in presence of a stranger, say in a railway-carriage, a certain self-restraint, joined with some such act as the offer of a newspaper, shows the spontaneous rise of a propitiatory behavior such as even the rudest of mankind are not without.

So that the modified forms of action produced in men by the presence of their fellows, and which are seen alike in the otherwise uncontrolled members of the lowest social groups and in the otherwise-controlled members of the highest social groups, constitute that comparatively vague control out of which other more definite controls are evolved—the primitive undifferentiated kind of government from which the political and religious governments are differentiated, and within which they ever continue immersed.

 

This proposition looks strange mainly because, when studying less-advanced societies, we carry with us our developed conceptions of law and religion. Swayed by them, we fail to perceive that what we think the essential parts of sacred and secular regulations were originally subordinate parts, and that the essential parts consisted of ceremonial observances.

It is clear, a priori, that this must be so if social phenomena are evolved. A political organization or a settled cult cannot suddenly come into existence, but implies preëstablished subordination. Before there are laws, there must be submission to some potentate enacting and enforcing them. Before religious obligations are recognized, there must be acknowledged one or more supernatural powers. Evidently, then, the behavior expressing obedience to a ruler, visible or invisible, must precede in time the civil or religious restraints he imposes. And this inferable precedence of ceremonial government is a precedence we everywhere find.

How in the political sphere fulfillment of forms signifying subordination is the primary thing, early European history shows us. During times when the question, who should be master, was in course of